project image
Julia Betts

first performed on January 10, 2021
artist’s studio, Pittsburgh, PA
performed once in 2021


Pittsburgh, PA


In “The Floor is a Door,” a handmade replica of my room and the ground beneath provides a backdrop for my performance. The props are hollow recreations of objects from my actual bedroom. I construct every object in the room without discrimination for its value, fabricating items from the mundane (such as a coffee cup), to the personal (such as a photograph of a passed away pet), to the large and complex (such as a bureau). With predominantly clay as my material, I craft the objects in hollow form, turning the former items into vessels. I then paint the vessels, detailing the inside with pink bodily textures.

After completing the props, I arrange them on the upper and lower levels of the set. The top level is fabricated to resemble a section of my bedroom, including its light blue walls and beige carpeting. The bottom level is textured and painted to represent an underground cavern. In final preparation for the performance, the hollow forms on the upper level are filled with fake blood.

During the recorded performance, I break open the objects on the upper level, releasing the fake blood from the vessels. The blood moves past the rubble of broken vessels, spiraling through the bedroom floor into the underground, and filling the next version of the vessels below. After the blood has transferred, the underground forms rise and resurrect from the dirt. In the ultimate video installation, this performance will be played on an infinite loop. I will film each cross-section of the room individually and then, to create a full representation of my room and the ground beneath it, I will place the videos side-by-side in the video installation.

The doubling of objects and connection between the two levels of the set relates to the phrase, “as above, so below,” a quote rooted in occult teachings. This phrase suggests that events on earth will affect the astral plane, and vice versa. Once the forms are broken, the life force, i.e. blood, escapes and is subsumed into the “the other side”. The objects in the performance shift between levels of the set, a “lower self” (earthly being) and a “higher self” (spiritual being). In tandem to the pain and violence I depict in my performance, determination and resilience rise in response to these forces. The project embodies destruction and reclamation in both a physical and emotional sense.